Windows 8.1 is finally here, bringing a host of improvements to Microsoft's touch-friendly operating system. In addition to some cosmetic upgrades, Windows 8.1 arrives with a variety of new app experiences including the all-new Movie Moments and enhanced favorites such as Nook and Netflix. From social media to streaming music, here are the top 10 apps for Windows 8.1.
Movie Moments (Free)
If you want to create quick, fun videos that don't require any technical know-how, Microsoft's new Movie Moments app is for you. Released alongside Windows 8.1, this free software allows you to add colorful captions, music and special effects to any video with just a few simple clicks. Movie moments allows you to import existing videos or capture new ones, and the software makes it easy to share your silly creations with loved ones.
While the previous version of Windows 8 lacked a Facebook app, 8.1 users can finally enjoy immediate access to the world's biggest social network. This version of Facebook has a similar layout to its various mobile incarnations, though the aesthetics have been tailored to fit the feel of Windows 8. You'll be able to manage your profile, widgets, and pages on the app's left bar and chat with friends on the right side of the screen, while your main news feed rests conveniently in the center. If you're seeking an easy way to stay in touch with friends on your 8.1 device, this free app is a no-brainer.
Barnes & Noble's long-running Nook application gives users access to a wealth of digital reads, and the application has been updated to take full advantage of Windows 8.1. The software now supports enhanced snap view and improved portrait orientation, so you'll be able to enjoy your favorite novel or comic book no matter how you hold your Windows device. Nook for Windows 8.1 allows for easy sign-in via your Microsoft account, and the streamlined search functionality will help you find your new favorite book faster than ever.
One of the most popular video-chat apps around, Skype makes it easy to stay in touch with friends and family via video and audio calls. The Windows 8.1 version of the software allows you to receive and answer calls from your device's lock screen, so you can step away from your PC without worrying about missing the chance to talk to a loved one.
Fresh Paint (Free)
Microsoft's Fresh Paint app just got fresher, with a bevy of upgrades to coincide with the Windows 8.1 launch. The software has more tools than ever for virtual artists, including a new watercolor option for creating lifelike paintings on a touchscreen. You can now import a photograph and transform it into a work of art, and the update allows users to print their creations. Windows 8.1's deep Bing integration spreads to Fresh Paint, as the new Get Inspired function allows users to Bing search images to get ideas for their next masterpiece.
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The largest online auction site on the Internet, eBay allows users to buy, sell, and bid on everything from new electronics to vintage clothing. The experience has been enhanced for Windows 8.1, allowing users to pin live auctions to the app's home screen in order to keep tabs on their most desired items. The app supports Windows 8.1's Share Charm, allowing shoppers to show their favorite items to friends with a single touch.
Adobe Photoshop Express (Free)
Adobe Photoshop Express is a mobile-friendly version of the popular photo editing software, allowing artists to crop, resize, and add filters with a few taps of the screen. The application received a few small upgrades for Windows 8.1, including an App Live Tile function that allows users to easily view their five most recently edited photos. Photoshop Express now supports Snap View, so you can edit your creations while browsing the web or chatting with friends on the other half of the screen.
Hulu Plus (Free, $7.99/month subscription)
The streaming service of choice for television addicts, Hulu Plus gives users unlimited access to favorites like Family Guy and Saturday Night Live for $7.99 a month. The popular entertainment app has been optimized for Windows 8.1, supporting larger live tiles for a better user experience. The app has also been integrated with the all-new Bing Smart Search, so you can look up your favorite shows right from the home screen.
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Box is a simple, free solution for sharing important files on the cloud. The storage app got even better for Windows 8.1, with smoother file previews and better search control for finding the exact document you need. The software has been optimized to support 8.1's new snap view, so you can get work done with up to three other apps running.
Xbox SmartGlass (Free)
Xbox SmartGlass is the ultimate gaming companion app, as it turns any supported device into a remote control for the Xbox 360 and soon the Xbox One. The software is smarter than ever on Windows 8.1, as the upgraded snap view allows you to control your console while leaving room for other Windows apps. The app now supports Internet Explorer on Xbox, making your Windows 8.1 device a supplementary keyboard for surfing the web on your television.